Granted, we are justified in asking who is synchronizing with whom here. Which came first, the theme (attack-the-cops thugs have a righteous cause) or the method (having a righteous cause means needing to attack people and break things)?
But the appearance of convenient synchronization could not be better typified than by these two examples from the last 24 hours.
The most egregious example is that of CNN, which literally altered a headline to slavishly reflect the point of view of Antifa.
Be clear here. CNN didn’t alter its headline to more accurately reflect something Antifa said. The tenets of good journalism require news outlets to quote their subjects correctly – even if the subjects are Antifa thugs; even if they are Nazis.
But that’s not what CNN was doing by changing the headline. CNN was changing the message of its own coverage about what happened, by knuckling under to Antifa’s biased – and in fact inaccurate – perspective.
Gateway Pundit picked up on the headline change. As reflected in its own “clarification,” CNN’s action here goes beyond ridiculous. It’s pathetic.
To recap: CNN is taking dictation from Antifa about the nature of cause and effect in an event Antifa was involved in. Not just taking dictation, but scurrying to “correct” itself when its reporting has inadvertently been too accurate. (It has been documented from multiple sources that Antifa was armed with rocks, bats, containers of urine and feces, and even acid in Charlottesville, and was in fact responsible for considerable violence, if not for all of it.)
The journalistic standard would be to acknowledge what Antifa says, and report it accurately, but to evaluate the nature of the event as objectively as possible and consider all empirical evidence.
CNN’s active determination to not do that is evidence in itself: that CNN isn’t engaged in journalism, but in advocacy.
The second example is slightly subtler, but not really that much subtler. What passes for subtle in our post-modern Dialogue of Dog Whistles isn’t that mysterious or hard to parse.
This example involves the New York Times running an opinion piece by Anthony Russo entitled, “Why Lee Should Go, and Washington Should Stay.”
I’ve seen some other writers – who should know better – pouncing on this point, as if what we really need when masked hooligans are running around the country breaking things is a discussion of which things they should break.
The implied premise here is that the sledgehammer wielders, by literally attacking the public square, have done some sort of service by forcing us into a debate on a burning question of policy.
If we accept that premise, we’ve bought into mainstreaming wanton destruction as a method of forcing “debate.” In the reality of human dynamics, that’s called “letting yourself be held hostage to tantrums.” In even less savory terms, it’s the definition of extortion by a Mafia goon squad.
No matter who you are, if you are stupid enough to go along with that premise and argue on its terms, you need to just bow out and go back to second grade. Let the big people handle this one.
Under no circumstances should anyone be expected to accord respect to the actions of hooligans. We’re in America, not post-Ceausescu Romania. In a free society where public monuments have been put up by voluntary consensus, the right response to people attacking them is to firmly subdue the attackers, bring the full weight of the law down on them, and ensure the attacking stops. Then, wait to see if anyone who can comport himself peacefully and reasonably comes forward to make a case against certain monuments, without destruction or violence.
If such people come forward, then and only then is it appropriate to discuss which monuments to keep, and which to remove.
We must take a moment to note this: under few if any circumstances will a blanket opinion in the New York Times be applicable to all the things people want to erect monuments to. There was a time when the big people understood that too. It’s a juvenile, absurdly simplistic idea, that as a general matter there can be only one righteous opinion on which monuments to keep – and that anything meaningful is done by proclaiming that opinion. Fifth graders achieve as much by voting in a Model UN.
Of course, which monuments are righteous is not what the current crisis is even about – and no great exercise of mental agility is needed to discern that.
But a more immediate point is that the anti-monument mob has already advanced from sledgehammers, spray paint, and blowtorches to planting bombs. These criminals have had far more encouragement already than they should have. It’s not just stupid to accommodate them with a debate on their terms; it’s unconscionable.
Yet NYT has done it, as if on cue. At this point, it can’t be called judicious, for observers to assume that that means nothing about the political relationship of the mainstream media to the mob. It has to be called foolish and self-annihilating.